From the Coments| Constitution Day
September 19, 2012 5 Comments
David B. Monier-Williams says:
I’m glad you brought attention to this most important of days.
I was a very lucky person. During WWII my father was sent over from Britain to Washington D.C.on the British Raw Materials Mission…basically to get brass to make ammunition. My mother joined him. this was in early 1942. We three children,were in Canada, my mother’s native land, spent the Winter and Easter vacations from boarding school with them in D.C..
My father was paid in pounds which didn’t go very far in the US in those days. My mother, being very ingenious, planned twice weekly excursions to the various historic sites and museums. It was always planned with both my two older sisters in mind and myself, some stuff that interested boys and some girls. There were of course, some places that interested all of us.
One such trip was to the Capitol Building. In the Rotunda on display were the three most important documents of the world. There under protective glass were the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States of America, and the one on which both of these are based the Magna Carta. It had been sent over from England together with many other historical artifacts for protection for the duration of the war. Sad to say I didn’t even have a “Brownie” to record this amazing day.
What an awesome sight that must have been in the Rotunda of the Capitol, which is pretty awesome itself! Thank you, David.
Let’s talk about this comment a bit.
If you wish to know about individual freedom in this world, there are two countries who have pioneered it and presented the case in writing:. England and the United States. There are three documents existing that spell it all out. There are legends that there are other’s for instance there is what is called King Alfred’s Charter which supposedly was similar. But anyway, there are really only three documents that have changed the world, and they are all in English, or Anglo-French.
The first of these is Magna Charta signed by King John at Runnymede, in 1215, as we have said it was based upon older charters including Henry I’s Charter of Liberties. It was forced upon King John by the barons of England by force of arms, and like our Emancipation Proclamation did not really do anything in the present. But it has come down to all of us whose law code descend from the Common Law as the basic statement of the rights of the Freeman. At that time in history it was the first and only attempt anywhere to limit the power of the King. That would make it the basic document of freedom for the entire world.
This particular copy is from 1297 and bears the Seal of Edward I, it is privately owned and is on permanent loan to the National Archives and is displayed in the same manner as the other ‘Documents of Freedom’. There are four copies of the original 1215 Charter, all are in England.
The other two documents David mentions seeing were the Declaration of Independence, perhaps the most succinct, concise and thoroughgoing statement of rights of the individual ever written, and the Constitution of the United States of America, in which we codified how free men could best organize to govern themselves.
Now here’s some thinking matter for you, these three documents plus the Bill of Rights, have become the sine qua non of freedom for men everywhere, how remarkable that all of them are derived from the history of the English freeman and his tenacity in resisting the imposition of tyranny by his own government. Where are the similar document from Europe, or Asia or Africa?
Individual liberty is the bequest of the English speaking countries to the world. We have a lot to do to uphold our heritage.
Jessica Hoff in her comment below has provided a link to a fascinating project at the University of East Anglia concerning Magna Carta
A project to bring an 800-year-old document into the 21st century has been launched at the University of East Anglia.Magna Carta is known around the world as the cornerstone of British constitutional liberty.Now a £910,000 project to track down lost originals and create an online database of new commentary, images, translations and research findings about the document is underway.The three-year project will see researchers sift through more than 300 archives in the UK, France and Ireland, in a bid to trace lost originals. An original from the 1297 issue of Magna Carta, sold in New York in 2007, realized $21 million.
The team will also be on the look-out for new evidence about King John – popularised as a cruel villain in the legend of Robin Hood – to see whether he really was a monster.
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